With COVID-19 cases being reported in cities such as Mumbai, Thane, Agra, Noida and Delhi, retailers, multiplex operators, mall developers and eatery owners are bearing the brunt of the cronavirus outbreak ahead of Holi.
“There is a clear business impact. People are avoiding crowded places and gatherings across cities. This is hitting business, both at traditional and modern trade outlets, during the Holi season, which kicked off from Saturday,” said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
On Friday, CAIT announced that it was calling off Holi-based events to be organised by its regional and local chapters across cities in the next three days.
Holi will be celebrated on Tuesday across India. The four-day weekend starting Saturday would have come as a boon for retailers, malls and multiplex operators.
Mukesh Kumar, chief executive officer, Infiniti Mall, which operates properties in Andheri and Malad in Mumbai, said he had not seen a spike in business this weekend. “The Holi weekend normally gives us a spike of about 20-25 per cent in terms of footfalls. People come out in large numbers and the mood is celebratory. This year we are not seeing that spirit of celebration,” he said.
Movie theatres, said industry sources, have seen footfalls drop sharply in the last few days, hitting collections of films such as Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Thappad, which released last week. While Tiger Shroff-starrer Baaghi 3, which released on Friday, has raked in Rs 17.5 crore on its opening day, trade analysts said the number was less than expected.
Electronics retailers, such as Vijay Sales, which runs stores in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities, are grappling with supply disruptions also. “There are supply issues due to the coronavirus. This is impacting the business,” said Nilesh Gupta, managing director, Vijay Sales.
Officials at Big Bazaar, part of the Future Group, said they are witnessing panic buying at the outlets in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, in categories such as food and fast moving consumer goods. “People are stocking up on essentials, since there is a fear whether they can step out in the next few days if the virus scare grows,” said an executive at Big Bazaar.
Eateries are already seeing a decrease in dine-in sales, though delivery sales remain stable for now, said executives at Westlife Development, which runs McDonald’s stores in south and west India.
Samir Kuckreja, founder and chief executive officer, Tasanaya Hospitality, said demand for meat dishes had fallen at restaurants, according to conversations he had with eatery owners across the cities.
Riyaaz Amlani, chief executive officer and managing director, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, which runs outlets such as Social, Smoke House Deli and Salt Water Cafe, said his restaurants were taking all the necessary precautions to sanitise dining and kitchen areas. “Yes, there is fear in the minds of people. But this weekend should give us a sense of how bad it is and how long it will last,” he said.